Tool Box Review

April 16, 2008


CA governance context (Orientation)

·         Indicators of decline: infrastructure, education levels, deteriorating services, etc.

·         Old v new CA discrepancy; lack of civic unity

o           Voters v residents

o           Salience of immigration issue

o           Disconnect between needs and willingness to pay (who needs and who pays?)

·         Low public approval/trust of state government

o           General unwillingness to pay (to entrust government with tax dollars)

·         Key governance mechanisms related to current circumstances

o           2/3 threshold for tax increases

o           Direct democracy – reliance on initiative

§         Legislature more representative of the population

§         Initiative more representative of voting population

o           Ballot box budgeting

§         Earmarked general fund

§         Tax and spending limits

o           Term limits

o           Non-competitive districts

o           State control over local resources => disconnect between decision makers and impact of decisions

·         Some results

o           Structural deficits

o           New ways to finance – not General Fund

o           Reliance on budget gimmicks

o           Hybrid democracy

§         Interaction between representative and direct democracy

o           Complex civic engagement situation

§         Government dysfunction => public distrust, dislike of government => embrace direct democracy => more dysfunction

§         Direct democracy requires more active (if not engaged) citizenry

§         Young people turn to non-government forms of engagement

o           Government increasingly unable to plan for/respond to social and economic problems

·         Key aspects of governing culture

o           Weak planning (including personnel management)

o           Confused/multiple accountability

o           No performance basis in budgeting

o           Reform resistant


Part I: Defining the “Public” in Public Service


·         Traditional Public Administration

o           Rules, hierarchy, bureaucracy

o           Accountability – for inputs, process

o           Fixed mission

o           Focus on implementation

o           Public managers are technicians

·         Reinvention/New Public Management

o           Market principles – individual demands determine public good

§         Competition

§         Customer-driven

§         Results-oriented

§         Entrepreneurial

o           Public managers as entrepreneurs with accountability for outcomes (wide latitude for means/process)

·         New Public Service/Political Management

o           Citizens are different from customers (collective definition of public good)

o           Citizen involvement

o           Public manager as seeker of public good – create public value

o           Politics are inherent in management

o           Public managers as strategists for the public good

§         expand/change mission if necessary

§         complex accountability

·         Strategic triangle – for leading in a political context

o           Manage out – find substantive value  (is it valuable?)

o           Manage up – get political support for mission (is it supportable?)

o           Manage down – align organizational capacity with mission  (can we deliver?)

·         Accountability

o           For process (fairness, open government)

§         Can there be too much openness?  Too much concern about fairness?

§         Danger of process concerns interfering with performance

o           For outcomes (performance)

§         Who chooses performance measures?

§         What about perverse incentives? (what gets measured gets valued)

§         Danger of obsession with metrics to detriment of public value


Part II:  Political Environment of Policy Process

·         Agendas – critical to get issue on agenda

o           Why issues rise and fall

§         Focusing events; crises

§         Decline in regular indicators – a condition becomes a problem

§         Availability of solutions – (if none, can fall off agenda)

o           Framing – strategy used to get/keep issue on agenda

·         Strategic actors, policy entrepreneurs

·         Political management

o           Why it is important

§         Authority provided by a leader’s position is not enough

§         Need broad political support from overseers, interest groups, media, etc. in order to get legitimacy for mission and agenda

§         Need is greatest if seeking to innovate and where interagency coordination is important to carrying out mission and agenda

o           Who is important to political management

§         Political superiors

§         Legislative overseers

§         Bureaucratic overseers

§         Staff who influence the above

§         Media

§         Interest groups

§         Courts

o           Techniques of political management

§         Advocacy (for your own point of view)

§         Managing policy development (policy analysis and consultation to find best solution)

§         Negotiation (based on market paradigm – see Part I: people act as customers with fixed interests and bargain for the best outcome)

§         Public deliberation (based on citizen paradigm – see Part I: social learning occurs when citizens engage in public issues; government role includes providing environments in which this can occur)

§         Strategic communication/marketing – danger of manipulation but can help public leaders better understand what citizens value

o           Key concepts of political management (that cut across the five techniques)

§         Framing

§         Timing (window of opportunity)

§         Understanding and managing interests (who’s involved and why?)

§         Policy analysis versus “ordinary knowledge”

·         Survival tips from Ashworth

o           Understand motivations of Legislators (claim credit)

o           Always meet with the opposition – no downside to that

o           Plan ahead carefully when dealing with the press – control the interview

o           Learn from your boss – bad and good; always ask what would you do?

o           Be strategic in moving your policy agenda

§         Get your superiors to support your position by figuring out what makes them look good

§         Stir up opposition to your current policies to give more support for your change agenda

§         Look for the right opportunity to take risks




Part III:  Policy Design and Development


Steps in Policy Design

1.   Define the problem

o           This is key – revisit the definition

o           Careful not to define the solution into the problem

o           Be skeptical about causal claims, conventional wisdom


2.   Assemble evidence – different from academic research

o           People and documents – equally important

o           Strategy of evidence collection – make best use of time and of limited access to important people

o           Not a definitive search for intellectual enlightenment (academic research) but a timely search to help understand policy problems

o           Less hustling of data, and more thinking

o           Use analogies to similar programs

o           Do not ignore those who disagree


3.   Construct Alternatives

o           Think about how the world works in the area you’re working in

o           Draw picture

o           Start with big picture options

o           “let present trends continue” as baseline alternative


4.   Select the Criteria

o           Effectiveness – will it work in addressing the problem?

o           Cost-effective/efficient use of taxpayer dollars

o           Equity – who pays/who benefits

o           Affordability

o           Certainty/uncertainty

§         Can we predict the consequences?

§         How much uncertainty is there about outcomes?

§         Is it robust – will it survive or work under different conditions

o           Implementation

§         Management flexibility – accountability for what v how

§         Can we actually make this happen

§         Administrative costs and demands

o           Political feasibility


5.  Project Outcomes

o           Hardest step, but most important

o           Be realistic (avoid temptation of optimism)

o           Use creative methods  - hard to apply science or social science methods

§         Break even estimates

§         Scenarios

§         2 x 2 matrix

§         Plusses/minuses


6.  Confront Trade-Offs

o           Not likely that any alternative dominates

o           Have to consider values


7.   Decide


8.   Tell Your Story

o           Know your audience

o           Tell them what they need to know – not everything you learned in the process

o           “Taxi driver” test

o           Use your writing skills


Tools of Policy Design

·         Incentives

o           Positive and negative

o           Market and regulatory

o           Watch for perverse incentives

·         Information

·         Standards

·         Financing mechanisms

o           How funds or benefits are distributed

o           Matching requirements

o           Other?

·         Partnerships

·         Budgeting

o           Across-the board v targeted decisions

o           Structural budget deficit

o           One-time v ongoing expenditures

o           Categorical programs

o           Budget politics – quick fixes and smoke and mirror; overstate revenues/understate expenditures

·         Rule-making

·         Huge role in policy making can be left to agencies via rule-making process

o           Role of public input


Part IV:          Organizational Effectiveness, Leadership, and Policy Change


·         Big leadership challenges

o           Organizational and individual resistance

o           Fear of change and loss

o           Entrenched assumptions – single loop v double loop learning (the latter questions those assumptions)

·         Leadership strategies

o           Motivate with vision – keep on it and on it

o           Communicate effectively – outside and inside the organization

o           Understand the organizational culture

o           Make changes at the appropriate pace

o           Moore’s strategic triangle again: find the value in the organizational mission; secure political support for it; reengineer the organizational capacity, if necessary, to get the organizational capacity to perform

·         Strategic planning

o           A mission and vision that means something to insiders and outsiders

o           SWOT analysis (internal strengths and weaknesses; external opportunities and threats)

o           Use SWOT to establish priorities

§         Internal weaknesses that are exacerbated by external threats (biggest needs to do something)

§         Internal strengths that are bolstered by external opportunities (best opportunity to improve – low hanging fruit)

o           No one textbook approach that works – must fit with organizational culture

o           Plan must be used in decisions or it is useless and the organization’s budget IS the plan

·         Strategic management

o           The actual implementation of a strategic plan through:

§         Budgeting

§         Hiring

§         Information systems

§         Communications

§         Partnering

§         Evaluating – performance measurement

§         Etc.

o           Strategic plan (or at least strategic thinking) is necessary but not sufficient part of strategic management